Assessing the relationship between youth capabilities and food security : a case study of a rainwater harvesting project
The National Water Act of 1998 provides the policy framework for stakeholder participation and the engagement of stakeholders closest to the resource on which they depend to be involved in developing and managing their water resources. Rainwater harvesting presents a viable option for securing water availability in order to increase food production and cash returns from food in the Ehlanzeni District Municipality which is one of the poorest districts in the Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. The study focuses on rural youth (between the ages 18-35 years) in two villages of the Ehlanzeni District, Luphisi and Dwaleni, and seeks to assess the relationship between youth capabilities and food security. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods but with more emphasis on the quantitative data, with qualitative data providing anecdotal evidence to back up the findings. The qualitative data was collected from focus group discussions and the quantitative data was based on a baseline survey within the context of an Integrated Rain Water Harvesting Project implemented by a local NGO. The data drew on indicators in the questionnaire that were to do with social capital and empowerment. The indicators tapped into attributes/capabilities like trust, social cohesion and inclusion and sociability and examined these within the context of Amartya Sen's Capability Approach, to consider whether and in what ways these attributes relate to food security. The results show that there are youth have high levels of certain attributes/capabilities such as trust, social cohesion and inclusion, collective action and co-operation, self-esteem, and meaning. The findings also show that in other dimensions there are less opportunities and that, in particular, access to networks, access to knowledge and information and sociability are lacking among youth. Low levels of adherence to networks, lack of access to knowledge and information and poor sociability show that there are inadequate opportunities for youth to engage with issues around food and water security. The Chi-square test was used to investigate the relationship between youth capabilities and food security and at p<0.05 results showed that there was no relationship between youth capabilities and food security in Dwaleni. There were only three capabilities which showed any significant statistical relationship between youth capabilities and food security in Luphisi namely; collective action and co-operation, social cohesion and self-esteem. The study recommends that networking opportunities and access to information relating to food and water security should be improved. The thesis claims that there are adequate opportunities to build on existing capabilities such as self-esteem, trust and social cohesion that are not being maximized and that youth are not being adequately engaged in water resources management.